[Excerpt from Srila Gurudeva: Around the World, U.K. 1996 (Watford, 18 May), the second book in a series of volumes on Srila Gurudeva’s world preaching tours.]
Bhakti cannot be achieved by our own efforts or practices—bodily or mental. It has been stated that Bhakti is the embodiment of a personality. She is a person. She is none other than Krishna and Srimati Radhika. The conjugal prema between Srimati Radhika and Krishna is called bhakti. The mood of Srimati Radhika is bhakti. Yogurt is obtained from milk, and the churning of yoghurt produces butter. The essence of butter is pure ghee. Similarly, the combined essence of Hladini-sakti and Samvit-sakti on the platform of Sandhini-sakti will manifest in our hearts. Vrindavana is manifested from sandhini-sakti. The heart of a pure devotee is also like Vrindavana. By the potency of the combined essence of hladini-sakti and samvit-sakti acting on the platform of sandhini-sakti, a mood from Goloka Vrindavana will descend in the sadhaka’s heart through any of the Vrajavasis. Then, it is called visuddha-sattva and siddha-sarira (the eternal, perfect spiritual body) will be realized, otherwise not.
So, bhakti is kripa-siddha, the perfection of bhakti is achieved by mercy. Kripa-siddha is of two kinds—the mercy attained by Bhagavan Krishna Himself and the mercy attained by His associate’s grace. This is the way to attain perfection in bhakti, any other way will not grant us pure bhakti. You should understand this more deeply. Although kripa-siddha is of two kinds, even the mercy of the associates of Krishna is ultimately Krishna’s mercy. Both forms of mercy are Krishna’s grace, whether the mercy descends directly from Him and indirectly descends from the Vrajavasis.
When a guest comes to your house, you will ask, “Would you like to partake of the Mahaprasada that I have cooked and offered to Krishna? The preparations include sweet khira, malpua, rasagullas, and rabadi. Everything is there! So, if you want to take this Mahaprasad that we have prepared and offered, you can take.”
If the guest will gladly accept, then the guest and you will sit down and chant:
“Maha prasade govinde naama brahmini Vaisnava.” And the maha-mantra is later sung. Mercy bestowed unconditionally and the attainment of perfection without any effort is an easy process.
The practitioner, the sadhaka should sincerely follow navadha bhakti, the nine forms of devotion like:
Shravanam, kirtanama, vishno smaranama, pada-sevanam, arcanam, vandanam, dasyam, sakhyam, and atma-nivedanam.
And, he should also follow panchada bhakti, the five forms of devotion like sadhu-sanga, nama-kirtana, bhagavat shravana, mathura-vasa, and sri-murtira shraddhaya sevane. These are very powerful forms of devotion. If no offenses have been committed and you have only slightly observed any of these forms of devotion, then Krishna-prema will surely come; there is no doubt about this. But, the devotee should be very careful to not commit offenses. A person may be very wretched, restless, degraded, and lusty; but yet, if he observes any of these five limbs of devotion, and among them, if he especially observes kirtaniyah sada hari (the constant chanting of Hari’s names), then everything will be achieved.
Kripa-siddha constitutes Krishna’s mercy and the observance of the limbs of devotion that I have just explained. By your own efforts, you will not achieve pure bhakti. A guru will sow the seed of Krishna-seva-vasana in your heart; this seed is the desire to serve Krishna.
Previously, I explained the situation where the guest was offered Mahaprasada by the host. In another instance, the host will tell the guest, “You can cook for yourself if you want.” The host will provide the guest with a stove, rice, dal, flour, green vegetables, and other ingredients. The host will then tell the guest, “You can cook and offer the bhoga to Krishna. But it will take time to prepare the bhoga.” So, in this case, though the guest has to prepare prasadam by himself, he has been supplied all the ingredients by the host.
Similarly, it is also the mercy of Krishna that you have the tendency to chant Hare Krishna and engage in the limbs of devotion like shravanam, kirtanama, and smaranam. Without the mercy of Krishna and His devotees, you cannot chant and remember. So, we should know that without the mercy of Krishna, and without the mercy of any of His devotees; we cannot proceed an inch in the realm of devotion. Thus, we should honor all the devotees along with Krishna and we should try to have the association of Vaisnavas more advanced than ourselves. If we will not associate with advanced Vaisnavas, we will not know the motive of Svamiji. On the contrary, you will think, “Svamiji is like us. He chants harinama like us. And he is mortal like us.” Having a worldly conception of Svamiji, you will think, “I have known him fully.” But, this mentality is thoroughly condemned. This mentality is very offensive. You should not think like this.
Rather, we should think, “He has come from Goloka Vrindavana by the order of Srimati Radhika and Krishna to give Their message to the whole world. It is not stated anywhere in the Bhagavad Gita that Krishna’s message is only meant for the Hindu, Muslim, or other members of a particular religious denomination. The message of the Bhagavad Gita is for everyone. Similarly, Svamiji’s message is for the whole world.” You should think this way and realize Svamiji’s glories. Try to understand the glories of Sri Radha-Krishna and Their dear associates.
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